CASA GRANDE — After a heartbreaking five-set loss to Tucson Pueblo last week, Casa Grande Union found itself back on the court Tuesday in a somewhat familiar spot.
After a 25-20 first set win, the Cougars dropped a 25-18 second set and were battling in a third set that could have spelled trouble.
Instead, the Cougars rallied from a 19-16 deficit to win the third set 25-22 and breezed through the fourth set 25-13 for a 3-1 victory over Tucson Amphitheater.
“That is probably the best that I have seen them play all year,” CG Union coach Matt Reeves said. “They were fighting for each and every individual point all the way through.”
The Cougars (2-1) battled after trailing 8-2 early on to win the first set, but they watched as the Panthers went on a 9-1 run to take a 20-11 lead in the second set.
“That second set got away from us,” Reeves said. “They had some hard serves, and we couldn’t make our pass. I think that was the difference in that one.”
In the third set, both teams battled back and forth before the Cougars took the lead for good at 22-21 and held on to win the set.
“After losing that second set, they dug deep and there was a couple of times where we were down by multiple points and they dug themselves out of the hole and pushed for the win in that third set," Reeves said.
"I think that is what turned it for us, and we knew that [we] were going to win that fourth set. It’s important to get that rebound and get that win. Especially with Amphi. That was a tough team, and they played really well. It definitely gets them back in the right mindset and shows them that if we fight and play hard, we can keep going in the season.”
Kalyssa Fox led CG Union with three service aces and 16 digs. Daranique Johnson added three aces and six kills, while Cynae Cureton had eight kills and Leah Salcido added 16 digs.
After opening the season with a 3-0 win over Tucson Desert View, the Cougars lost 3-2 to Pueblo by scores of 25-18, 14-25, 25-21, 20-25 and 16-14 in the decisive fifth set.
Reeves said the fifth-set loss was more of a mental breakdown.
“That’s the whole part of the game — forgetting mistakes and moving onto the next point or if it’s a match, moving onto the next match,” he said.
CG Union will host Tucson Cholla on Wednesday.